JCPS To Rearrange Magnet Programs

by scrosby on December 5, 2008

Magnet programs at sixteen Jefferson County high schools are about to get shuffled around. Jefferson County Public Schools administrators say although most of the schools HAVE magnet programs, their areas of study are too mish-mashed.  WFPL’s Stephanie Sanders reports.

Magnet programs are designed to provide students with training and experience in a specific field – either for a vocation or for college-prep. In Louisville, they range from pre-med to aviation tech, and sometimes it takes students more than one try to find the program that’s right for them. JCPS is changing its high school magnet program to accommodate those students, and bring specific programs closer to home.

Warm cookies, Gatorade and a wide array of candy are for sale at this Speedway… but you won’t find any gas pumps here… or cars. This Speedway is staffed and managed by high school students. It’s all part of the business program at Central High School Magnet Career Academy.

Seniors Dreshawn Bonds and Rudy Herd manage their underclassmen employees and try to increase profits that eventually go to scholarship funds for the upperclassmen.

Bonds says the potential scholarship money is a plus, but the real value of this Speedway class is real-world business experience.

“It got me really prepared, a lot of things I didn’t know, I know now,” says Bonds. “If I would have started a business back then, I would have failed in the first two weeks because I wouldn’t know what I was doing.”

After his convenience store experience, Bonds wants to be an entrepreneur. But that wasn’t always the case… he started out in Central’s medical magnet program and ended up switching to business. That is the case for many high schoolers who are finding their way into careers that fit their interests. It’s also the reason JCPS is revamping its high school magnet programs district-wide.

At the direction of Superintendent Sheldon Berman, a task force was formed to study the current magnet system and make recommendations for improvement.

The recommendations were approved last month by the Board of Education.

Diane Porter is the Director of JCPS’s School-to-Career program, which encompasses magnet programs.

“Do we always know what we want to do as an eighth grader? Probably not,” says Porter. “But we’re hoping that we get young people to think in terms of careers, what is it you think you may want to do along the way, so that will help some, we hope.”

The recommendations from the task force include reorganizing the magnet programs into themes like Expressing Ourselves, which would include programs in communications, media and the arts. The sixteen high schools that will participate are arranged geographically into three groups. Each school in the group will have a different theme.

Porter says it will require grouping the programs by theme.

“It’s kind of difficult to shut a program down because we have students in programs, so we don’t ever want to take away what we’re offering for students,” she says.

But Fairdale High School Principal Linda Brown doesn’t see it as a hindrance. Once the shift is complete – in time for the 2010 school year – Brown says students who may change their minds about magnet curriculum will have an easier time finding the right fit.

“A kid who lives out here, under the current system, if they wanted computer applications, then they might have to go all the way to Eastern High School,” says Brown. “But under this new system, the computer programs will probably be at Doss High School. I think it’s going to be less travel for kids, more opportunities close to home than there have been in the past.”

And that’s the whole idea – reducing travel time for students to get the programs they want. Not ALL JCPS high schools are included in the magnet program shuffle. Principals of schools that ARE included are in meetings to determine who gets what.

High schools included in the new magnet plan:

  • Valley
  • Pleasure Ridge Park
  • Western
  • Doss
  • Iroquois
  • Fairdale
  • Shawnee
  • Atherton
  • Waggener
  • Eastern
  • Ballard
  • Seneca
  • Jeffersontown
  • Fern Creek
  • Moore
  • Southern

Themes

  • Creating Our Social World (Human Services, Education and International Studies)
  • Designing and Building the Future (Engineering, Aeronautics, Architecture, Construction and Manufacturing)
  • Expressing Ourselves (Communication, Media and Arts)
  • Sustaining Ourselves and the Planet (Medicine, Health and the Environment)
  • Cultivating Leadership and Innovation (Business and Information Technology)

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